The pioneering color photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorskii was born in Kirzhachsky District, Vladimir Oblast, Russia in 1863. His parents were of Russian nobility with a long military history. The family moved to St. Petersburg, where Prokudin-Gorskii began his studies in chemistry. He was also interested in the arts, and enrolled for studies in painting.
Prokudin-Gorskii’s interest in chemistry and art fused with the study and practice of photography. By 1905, he had formulated a plan to use the emerging technological advances in color photography to document life in Russia. Using different techniques, including those first formulated by Scottish pioneer James Clerk Maxwell, Prokudin-Gorskii started taking color pictures of his homeland in 1909.
Tsar Nicholas II supplied Prokudin-Gorskii with a specially designed rail-road carriage which had been converted into a darkroom. Prokudin-Gorskii’s intention in documenting Russian life was to educate children about their country’s rich history and culture. In 1917, the Russian Revolution put an end to Prokudin-Gorskii’s plans, and the photographer left Russia in 1918, eventually settling in France.
These beautiful color photographs were first recorded on glass plates. In 1948 they were purchased by the Library of Congress, who have since scanned the images, through a process called digichromatography, and made them available to the public.
Via The Empire That Was Russia